Dreamers Under DACA have lawful presence: USCIS

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released recently new FAQs, clarifying that DREAMers who have been approved for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are considered by the Department of Homeland Security to be in the country with lawful presence—which should pave the way for all DACA-mented DREAMers to obtain driver’s licenses.  The announcement is a huge victory for immigration advocates, especially United We Dream, which pushed USCIS for clarification based on feedback from local groups.

DREAMers inNorth Carolinawon their quest for driver’s licenses this week and many governors and state officials have encouraged DACA recipients to apply for a license, but several states have continued to deny DREAMer’s access to licenses.
“Our local groups were hearing of too many DREAMers being denied driver’s licenses,” said Lorella Praeli, Director of Advocacy and Policy atUnited We Dream. “Thanks to DACA, tens of thousands of DREAMers are in the workforce and contributing and state officials should no longer be able to deny any DACA-mented DREAMer a driver’s license.”
USCIS also released the numbers of applications and approvals over the past few months, showing over 150,000 DREAMers have been approved but a downtick in applications in December.  The drop in applications seems likely a result of the holidays and fewer local organizations offering clinics to assist DREAMers applying for DACA, and United We Dream is renewing their commitment to expanding legal support and clinics.
“From our experience across the country and everything we hear from our local affiliate organizations, we know that as clinics and community support decrease, so do applications for the DACA program,” said Praeli. “United We Dream, along with partner organizations and fellow advocates, will be redoubling our efforts on the ground to support DACA-eligible DREAMers and assist them in the application process.”
Lorella Praeli from United We Dream also sent a message to all DREAMers in theU.S.who haven’t yet applied:
To all my fellow DREAMers, here are three facts you need to know about the ‘deferred action for childhood arrivals’ program, which lifts the fear of deportation and gives DREAMers a work permit and social security number:
The application process is working—tens of thousands of us have already been approved, with many more in the pipeline and the process is getting even better as we go along, particularly with today’s clarification from USCIS that should help everyone who qualifies for DACA also get a driver’s license.
Do not lose hope if you have been waiting for several months and have not been approved; USCIS is working through all the applications and a several month delay is to be expected.
If you think you don’t meet the educational requirements for the program, please don’t give up.  To find out more about what you can do, visit: http://unitedwedream.org/education-deep/.
And thank you for all you’ve done; we won this victory together!  Our hard work sharing our stories and pressuring our elected officials led to President Obama’s announcement around deferred action for DREAMers.  Let’s continue to build our power and make sure every eligible DREAMer applies.  You can find out more at www.weownthedream.org.
Own the Dream (www.weownthedream.org) is a collaboration between a number of major immigration advocacy organizations, including United We Dream, to provide legal support and assistance to DACA-eligible DREAMers.

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